Tag Archives: summit league

jags move one step closer to clinching no. 2 seed.

It’s a bittersweet year for the IUPUI Jaguars basketball teams. The women’s team is enjoying one of its best seasons in years while the men’s team is having its most difficult since going D-I. The men dropped a road game tonight at North Dakota State and the women’s team avenged an earlier loss today, throttling the Bison 57-40 in the Jungle. The win gives the Jags a 9-3 conference record and are now 16-9 overall.

What’s getting to be more and more impressive with the women’s team is they’re sharing the “hero” status. Thursday night, Katie Comello shoots five three-pointers to ignite the Jags offense. Today, Dawn Luster comes off the bench and torches North Dakota State for 10 points and six assists. Even more impressive, the Jags out rebounded the Bison 48-29. I’m no basketball genius, but I’ve always said rebounding leads to victories.

One Step Closer.
Of equal import to the Jags win today is third-place South Dakota lost at Ft. Wayne this afternoon, 71-64. The good part? IUPUI needs just one more conference win to lock up the No. 2 seed in the Summit League Conference Championship Tournament. The scary part? Ft. Wayne is surging, winning three in a row to move into a tie for third place with South Dakota. IUPUI’s final game of the season is at home against Ft. Wayne. Depending on how the Jags perform on their final road trip this week against South Dakota and Kansas City, it may not matter.

Bad Blood?
IUPUI’s SID John Berry told me before the game the players circled this game on their calendars and were looking forward to this game all season. Seems odd the team would be fixated on a game against a seventh place team, fresh off beating No. 1 South Dakota State two nights prior. Turns out the intensity was ratcheted up, thanks to the Jags losing at North Dakota State 71-68 on Jan. 17 in a game marred by a questionable foul late in the game.

“Neutral” Site, My Ass!
Personally, I was worried about a letdown after the big win Thursday night. Despite the slow start (which concerns me, moving forward), the Jags have been a second-half team the last two games. I like their late-game intensity, but I worry about the lack of early offensive output when they go to Sioux Falls for the tournament. Even though it’s classified as a “neutral” site, the three Dakota teams will enjoy playing in front of their home fans more than any other teams in the conference. In other words, Neutral Site, my ass!

The good news for the Jags, though, is they’re playing some of their best basketball of the season at the right time. They’re on a five-game winning streak and have a chance to atone for laying an egg in that embarrassing home loss to South Dakota last month when they travel to Vermillion, S.D. on Thursday. Win that game, and you’ve all but punched your ticket for the No. 2 seed.

On the Verge of Something Special.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but with four games remaining, the Jags are on the precipice of doing something special. At 16-9, they are one win shy of equalling their mark for most wins as a Division I program. The women’s team won 17 games twice: once in 2005-06 (17-11) and again in 2007-08 (17-16).

More importantly, they still have a chance to win the Summit League regular season championship. If South Dakota State drops either or both of their remaining games (vs. ONU, at NDSU) and the Jags win their four remaining games, the title comes to Indianapolis by virtue of head-to-head tiebreaker.

Is it a longshot? Well, there’s a lot of basketball left to be played. Before we worry about that, the first step is to win Thursday’s game at South Dakota.

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a kind of homecoming in the jungle.

JungleYou can’t always get what you want. Isn’t that how the song goes? That’s become the theme for the long-suffering IUPUI Jaguars men’s basketball team this season. Yesterday’s game against Omaha was one of the worst I’ve seen at home in a long time. Up by 22 points with about four minutes to play in the first half, only to lose by seven, 85-78. That’s a 29-point swing. What’s even more maddening: the Mavericks staged their comeback in about 15 minutes of game time. By the midpoint of the second half, it was up for grabs. With about eight minutes left on the clock, Omaha had the lead for good.

Maddening. Frustrating. Bewildering.

The last time we suffered such a bad loss in a game I felt we should’ve won was two years ago against Southern Utah University. I wrote about it here. The same recipe for disaster as two years ago occurred last night: large, early lead only gets squandered.

Maddening. Frustrating. Bewildering.

About Yesterday’s Game.
It was one of the more enjoyable days in The Jungle, I must say. Thanks to Homecoming festivities, we had an actual student section at the game yesterday. That always makes it more fun. Omaha’s SID, Bonnie, was very nice. But that’s to be expected. In all my years of working with opposing teams—about 15, total, between IU South Bend Titans and the Jags—I’ve only encountered one or two challenging people. The SIDs throughout our conference are always pretty good people.

Omaha’s head coach Derrin Hansen gave the table crew a laugh, too. Early in the second half, after a called timeout, Hansen forgot we’d already taken the under-16:00 media timeout. He kept asking Mike, the clock operator and Joe, official scorekeeper, why we haven’t taken the media timeout yet. We finally clarified with him what time it was taken. About a minute or two later, he leaned over and said, “you’ve got to forgive me, we’re a little slower in Omaha.”

IMG_1964My Day Behind the Mic.
We had one of our best crowds of the season yesterday. It’s always more fun to work in a full house. I had a good voice for most of the first half, although the timeout reads are starting to wear me out. And the eight-minute halftime Homecoming read was a rather tall order. The challenge there is to get through it without sounding like your droning on and on. Though it sounds counterintuitive, the more you try to punch up the announcements, the worse they sound.

A friend of mine who’s had a career in broadcasting and PA announcing gave me a good note yesterday, after the game: slow down. He’s right. He’s dead right. There’s a tendency to want to rush through the reads—especially during the media timeouts—but it’s the best way to screw up.

Heading toward the NCAA regionals next month, I need to focus on slowing down my reads. The in-game stuff doesn’t concern me as much. I feel pretty good about my ability to manage the scorers, fouls and substitutions. I just need to focus on getting a little better with scripted copy.

No, I’m never satisfied with my performance. Ever.

But I did get a rather nice compliment from one of the player’s dads. After introducing the JagBand (where I always include a different title or nickname for the band director, David Copeland), Sean Esposito’s dad introduced himself to me so he could tell me he always gets a laugh out of those intros and looks forward to it every game. It’s always nice to hear folks appreciate when you’re trying to keep it fun. Although it’s getting tougher and tougher to come up with new nicknames for Dave. Yesterday, he was the “pet psychic to the stars.” Because of the long halftime reads, I was unable to get to the second read.

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jaguars wbb roundball roundup: …not even a fair fight; must not look past omaha.

Last night’s IUPUI Jaguars women’s basketball game against former conference rival Chicago State wasn’t even a fair fight. The Jags won 65-30 in a game that could best be described as an in-season scrimmage. No such thing as a bad win, but this game changes nothing in terms of post-season play. They only thing I’m sure Head Coach Austin Parkinson wanted more than a win was no injuries.

A few interesting facts from the game:
* The Jags scored 37 points in the first half alone.
* With 33 combined points, Kerah Nelson and Nicole Rogers outscored the entire Chicago State team.
* Chicago State actually led the game 13-10 in the first half.

Even Nervous Teenagers Score More Often Than This
Chicago State hit a layup with 4:01 remaining in the first half, making the score 33-17. They would add two free throws at :32 before the end of the half…they would not score again until 9:49 in the second half, when the score was 51-21.

When you do the math on that, that means they went 14 minutes and 12 seconds between field goals. Think about that! In real time, that’s close to an hour between baskets. And, not to pile on the Cougars, but if you saw their shot selection and their shooting technique, you wouldn’t be surprised. Many trips down the court, they were just chucking it at the rim, hoping for a miracle.

It’s also fair to point out IUPUI’s team defense is pretty strong.

Take Care of the Ball
If there’s a weakness in the Jags’ game to highlight, it’s turnovers. IUPUI coughed it up 22 times in the game. You can’t get away with that many turnovers in any of the remaining seven conference games.

Speaking of Conference Play
IUPUI is currently in second place by a half game with a 6-3 conference record. Holding onto the #2 seed is important, because it gives you the chance for a day off in the conference tournament. South Dakota State has a 2-1/2 game lead over IUPUI and will the the Jags’ next home opponent on Feb. 14. This game has huge implications for both teams. A Jags win would pretty much seal up any potential tie breakers for the top seed. Before that game, however, IUPUI has to travel to Omaha on Saturday. I’ll spare you my admonitions to beware The Trap Game! But seriously, don’t look past the Mavericks. They’re a pretty strong team at home.

As for league leading South Dakota State, they are in the driver’s seat. With the exception of IUPUI, they’ve already beaten everyone else in the conference at least once. They had a couple close shaves on the road agains Fort Wayne and Kansas City, but the Jackrabbits are not likely to have those problems again. No matter where South Dakota State finishes in the standings, they still enjoy a home court advantage in the “neutral” site of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Games To Watch This Week

  • Fort Wayne at South Dakota State, Thursday, 8 p.m. EST
    Could this be a trap game for the Jackrabbits?
  • IUPUI at Omaha, Saturday, 3 p.m. EST
    Jags are 4-6 on the road this season. A win keeps pressure on SDSU.
  • Kansas at South Dakota, Saturday, 3 p.m. EST
    A KC win only helps IUPUI.
  • Oakland at South Dakota State, Saturday, 8 p.m. EST
    Wishful thinking for Jags fans, but not gonna happen. The Grizzlies will get trounced.

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press row diva.

It’s always a good night at The Jungle when I get to play Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis. But it’s a rarity when I get to play it twice in one night. I adopted Chelsea Dagger as the unofficial victory song for the IUPUI Jaguars. We hear it a lot for the men’s team. Given all the upheaval experienced by the women’s program over the past 12 months, it’s perfectly understandable that victories are less than frequent. But tonight, the last doubleheader of the season and men’s Senior Night? It was like a Blue Moon in the Jungle. We heard the Fratellis twice as both teams beat UMKC.

It was my first Senior night back in the Jungle since my “retirement” three years ago. I forgot how frenetic things can be during a game laden with promotions, presentations, honors and thank yous. While you’re watching the game or enjoying Scott McCauley and Angelo Smith call it for the webcast and radio, the rest of us behind-the-scenes chuckleheads are piecing everything together on the fly. Oh sure, there’s ample planning, scripting and coordinating going on—most of which is nailed down by SIDs Ed Holdaway and John Berry and Associate AD for External Affairs John Rasmussen—but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Although tonight was pretty solid in terms of preparation. We had the scripts, timeline and promotions locked down pretty tightly before the first game of the doubleheader. So why is it I always get anxious for Senior Night? Mostly because I have OCD about working of a locked script. The itinerary is so precise that we don’t have much margin for error. There is a game to be played, after all. So we have the pre-game senior honors, followed by more senior honors (for JagBand and cheerleaders) in the first media timeout, then a free-throw shooting promotion in the fourth media timeout. Then at halftime, cheerleaders have a three-minute routine (which they nailed, by the way), followed by Hall of Fame honorees then a Homecoming King and Queen ceremony.

In each case, it’s scripted, timed and involves many people and components.

Why am I yammering on about this? Because I play one minor part in it all: reading all the announcements. Of all the things I do as an announcer, this is the one I worry about the most because I don’t want to mess it up. I got through it all just fine, but I’d rate my voice about a C tonight. For whatever reason, I’ve struggled getting reacquainted with the microphones and sound system in the Jungle. Though I’m a natural-born tinkerer, I still wasn’t able to find the correct balance of bass, treble, volume and pitch on the mic. I was too busy fighting with the equipment rather than using it to my advantage.

I have a fairly natural deep voice and never have trouble projecting. But for whatever reason I spent too much time trying to bring the volume up on my own voice instead of using the system. As a result, fatigued vocal chords led to hoarse moments and less boom that I prefer.

My mission heading into next season will be to get the boom back in the Jungle.

Yes, I know. I’m becoming quite the Press Row Diva, aren’t I? Pretty soon I’ll be demanding red velvet furniture in my dressing room.

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jags in the jungle re-cap: if it’s good enough for the commish…

At one point tonight, the IUPUI Jaguars were ahead 20-4, running away with the game over Southern Utah University. At halftime, the Jags led comfortably 40-28. I was already cuing up Chelsea Dagger, the adopted (by me) post-game victory song. IUPUI lost 80-68. That’s a 24-point swing to a team that isn’t anywhere near the top of the conference. I still don’t know what happened other than IUPUI forgot how to put points on the board. It is the worst time of the season to play so inconsistently. After big wins over IPFW and Oakland, IUPUI is 1-2. They went from having a solid grip on second place to potentially falling to fourth place. Go figure.

My performance on PA was challenged by either my ear or my sound system. I might be guilty of being too much of a tinkerer because in this clip (you can hear me in the background) I don’t sound pitchy, dawg.

The challenge in the Jungle with sound is getting it so you’re projecting without pinning the needles or forced to shout. From my seat on press row I’m adept at knowing how to speak into a microphone for maximum clarity. But you’d never know that during the timeout announcements. We have to do them to meet the agreements with game sponsors, but you don’t want to lose the crowd energy so I end up whipping through them too fast. A few words always hang me up: ‘institute’ and ‘methodist sports medicine’. The former always comes out nasally and muddled, the latter is tantamount to a tongue twister with back-to-back letter-s contractions.

We need to get better at writing PSAs and in-game announcements for the ear, not the eye. Lyricists know how to string words together to form a rhythm (unless you’re Ed Kowalczyk of Live). But it couldn’t have been all bad, right? The JagBand sounded great and the Red Zone was in full throat tonight. I gave a decent performance. Couldn’t have been all bad. Summit League commissioner Tom Douple walked past me after the game, patted me on the back and said, “nice job.” I’ll take that any day of the week. If it’s good enough for the Commish, it’s good enough for me…sort of. 🙂

Men’s final home game is Saturday. Can’t believe my return season is nearly over already. It’s been a lot of fun, I must admit. I hope they let me come back next year.

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missing press row.

IUPUI's game day crew.

Thanks to ESPN360, I’m watching the Summit League men’s basketball tournament LIVE on my computer. Perhaps I’m feeling a little nostalgic for my days as a PA announcer for the IUPUI Jaguars, but I got to thinking about the media timeouts. I think they were 105 seconds long. Enough time to run a couple commercials on television or radio.

On press row, we seemed to pack quite a bit into those 105 seconds. I vividly recall cueing up and playing music, reading a couple announcements, going over stats with the official scorekeeper and holding conversations with other gameday staff on press row.

I miss working those games.

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go jags!

I’ll be paying close attention to the IUPUI Jaguars this week. They’re in pursuit of a trip to The Big Dance™ as they play in the Summit League basketball tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

They’re having some trouble tonight. Hopefully they can right the ship. Seriously!

Go Jags!

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